Monday, February 1, 2021

Celebrating National Freedom Day in the USA. Is it Hypocritical?

The USA has always put a strong emphasis on freedom.

"Land of the free ... let freedom ring ...  ... with liberty and justice for all." 
Woman holding an Equal Rights for All sign
Peacefully protesting for equal rights for all on a very chilly day.

There are countless famous phrases and song lyrics that celebrate freedom as the bedrock of the United States. We even have a designated day to remind us that the United States is a country dedicated to the ideals of freedom. On June 30, 1948, a bill was signed by President Truman, which proclaimed February 1 as National Freedom Day. On this day, we honor the resolution signed by Abraham Lincoln, abolishing slavery.

All Americans do not have the same freedoms and opportunities

I have taken my own personal freedom mostly for granted throughout my life. I've been free to live life

pretty much as I please, and I have not often given those liberties and innate privileges much thought. Of course, I've always been aware that many people living outside the US do not enjoy the same privileges as me, and I've felt lucky to be an American. 

Some news stories of the past few years were a huge wake-up call for me, as they were for many other Americans. It became undeniably apparent that freedom and justice are very different things to different citizens within this country, and freedom is certainly far from an equal right.

I have lived most of my life naively believing that the civil rights movement made good strides and America had become a place of equality for all. The inaccuracy of that assumption was proven by events too horrible to ignore in recent years. 

It is clear that minority groups are often targeted and afforded fewer opportunities than other citizens of this country. Those of us whose skin is white; whose ethnicity is not readily apparent; and whose sexual preferences/gender identity fits well within society's designated norm do not have the same worries and limitations as people beyond this group. 

Martin Luther King Jr quote about freedom typed on a mountain scene
From every mountain top, let freedom ring.

What can I do?

I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to clearly see the vast scope of these discrepancies, but now I truly cannot unsee them. Those of us whose freedom seems unlimited and unquestioned must ask hard questions of ourselves, our communities, and our nation. We must figure out how we can help make this a county where equality prevails and there truly is "freedom and justice and liberty for all." It is not enough that we have abolished slavery; until we ensure that everyone has equal rights and freedoms, we are not acting much better than the early Americans who owned slaves. We must all ask ourselves the question, "What can I do to right this wrong?"

With the insurrection at the United States Capitol just a few weeks ago, many Americans realized the fragility of our democracy and therefore our freedom. Horrific incidents such as the killing of George Floyd; the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA; and even the fact that protests must still be held to prove that Black Lives Matter all highlight the hypocrisy of our society. 

If we are to be the America in which most of us believe, we must figure out how to make this illusion of our great nation a reality. 

Today, on National Freedom Day, instead of celebrating my own freedom, I am committing to learning more about how I can ensure that all Americans enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities. I've learned there are some ways that I can begin to do this:

  • always speak out against injustices when they occur
  • examine my own biases (we all have them) and educate myself as to how to overcome them
  • donate to organizations that support equal rights
  • join peaceful protests and write congressional leaders, asking for effective change
  • elect government officials who will fight for equality
  • be more inclusive with my language and in my writing
No matter what your political views, I hope you will join me in this effort to stamp out these injustices.
Once we change this country to a place where all people are equal, then we really will make America great -- not again, but in a much better way. 

Until then, it doesn't feel quite right to celebrate National Freedom Day in the USA.


  1. Steps have been made in your country and in my own. Strides are needed. I am hoping that soon we will all stride out together and bring about meaningful and lasting change.


    1. Sadly, it seems we took a few steps back in recent years. But yes, global change is indeed the answer.

  2. It seems like such a simple concept, doesn't it? But it's actually far more complicated, as you explain. This was such a thoughtful post...I had to sit a while and consider. Thank you

    1. I appreciate your comment Carol. I have been thinking a lot about the discrepancies in our society.

  3. This is something that has been on my mind constantly. I live in SC and I see racism every single day and it's disgusting. I believe if you don't stand up against it than ultimately you are for it. That is just unacceptable.Great writing Susan! I'm so glad you're back to writing again!

  4. Wonderful post, Susan!
    And very do-able suggestions.
    This sister in Canada promises to walk with you in this journey!


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